By Louise Jones-Brown
Tukwila Historical Society President
September 1851 was a very important time in the lives of the early Duwamish River pioneer settlers as the first fall and winter were approaching as they settled on the newly acquired land. The preparations included bringing supplies from Fort Nisqually and livestock from the Luther Collins homestead located nearby. There had to be a barge created for transporting and had to be pushed along with poles while staying near land in case they had to beach the craft. It took several days to travel from a beach near present day Tacoma on their way north to the yet unnamed settlement.
Cabins had already been built on the Collins claim (in the area now known as Georgetown), on the land selected by Jacob Maple, and for Samuel Maple (Sam’s cabin was located on the site of the King County Administration Building). It has been told that Henry Van Asselt (Jacob’s future son-in-law), who had joined the group after recovering from an accidental gunshot wound, spent the first winter living with Samuel as there was no time left to build another cabin. Henry eventually selected the land just south of Samuel’s and his land would include the southern end of what would become known as Boeing Field. Their crops had been planted in late spring of 1851 and were now ready to sustain them for the coming winter.
A folk-art type painting was created in the 1960’s by Beulah Maple Norman, granddaughter of Jacob Maple, which she titled Coming of the Cattle. The story passed down in the Maple family has told about the Duwamish people coming out in their canoes to assist their new friends with the task of taking the barge of livestock and supplies down the river to their new homes. The painting is currently on display at the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center.
Further investigation of family stories found that for many decades, members of the Maple family held an annual gathering each year at the airport to commemorate the arrival of the cattle. A newspaper clipping was found in a collection of family memorabilia that reported a gathering had been held at Boeing Field/King County Airport in September 1977. Several of the Maple family members who attended these events can recall being there to share in the celebration.